Main article: Reagan assassination attempt
On March 30, 1981, Reagan, along with his press secretary James Brady and two others, were shot by a would-be assassin, John Hinckley, Jr. Missing Reagan’s heart by less than one inch, the bullet instead pierced his left lung. He began coughing up blood in the limousine and was rushed to George Washington University Hospital, where it was determined that his lung had collapsed; he endured emergency surgery to remove the bullet. In the operating room, Reagan joked to the surgeons, "I hope you're all Republicans!" Though they were not, Joseph Giordano replied, "Today, Mr. President, we're all Republicans."
The bullet was removed and the surgery was deemed a success. It was later determined, however, that the president's life had been in serious danger due to rapid blood loss and severe breathing difficulties. He was able to turn the grave situation into a more light-hearted one, though, for when Nancy Reagan came to see him he told her, "Honey, I forgot to duck" (using Jack Dempsey's quip).
The president was released from the hospital on April 11 and recovered relatively quickly, becoming the first serving U.S. President to survive being shot in an assassination attempt. The attempt had great influence on Reagan's popularity; polls indicated his approval rating to be around 73%. Reagan believed that God had spared his life so that he might go on to fulfill a greater purpose.
Air traffic controllers' strike
Main article: Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (1968)
Only a short time into his administration, federal air traffic controllers went on strike, violating a regulation prohibiting government unions from striking. Declaring the situation an emergency as described in the 1947 Taft Hartley Act, Reagan held a press conference in the White House Rose Garden, where he stated that if the air traffic controllers "do not report for work within 48...